Desperate to Travel: What’s Your Advice?

Pesquero en Playa el Yaque / Boat in El Yaque Beach
Creative Commons License photo credit: Javier Volcan 2.0

Travel bloggers LOVE to give advice. How to travel, where to go, what to see do and eat.  I love that willingness to help one another out with tips and advice, so I’m hoping you guys can pitch in and help me out on this one.

I got an email from a younger reader asking me for some advice. I’m always so flattered when people ask me for advice, even though I don’t always feel qualified to give it. This problem deals with some themes that I think many of us can relate to: the desire to see the world, the frustration of feeling stuck where you are.

I’m going to paste the letter (edited for brevity and anonymity, along with the answer I sent back.  After that I’m going to ask for your input on this not so uncommon problem.

The Letter:


Hey Steph,

I’m going to make this intro quick: I’m a seventeen year old girl who can’t see anything in my future other than travelling. The only thing that’s stopping me is my parents. You’ve probably heard this a hundred times, but this time it might be different.

Ever since I was little, I dreamed of going to Egypt. Everything about it intrigued me. And still does. But now, I’m dreaming of more than Egypt. My dream started there and branched off to the rest of the world.

If I was to tell my parents that I wanted to go travelling, my mum would just ignore it and my dad would probably laugh and make a joke out of it. In my family, people don’t just go off wandering. Especially females. “What girl do you know in our community that goes travelling?” my mother said to me the other day.

I hear all these stories and older people saying things like, “do what makes you happy”. Nothing would make me happy if I wasn’t able to travel. Nothing. I’m finishing high school very soon and I have no idea what to do with my life. I’ve been told I’m intelligent, that I shouldn’t waste my brains. That I should try to be a doctor or a nurse or something like that –mind you, I know I’m incapable of studying medicine. But that won’t make me happy. Maybe if I could tie the two with traveling, it would work. But how can I travel without my parents’ consent? How could I possibly make them let me go?!

I’m the type that wouldn’t care if I don’t have stacks of money. I’d love to visit developing countries. Anywhere. Literally. Every nook and cranny of the world, I just want to see it.

Its just those two dominant figures in my life that are stopping me. I just don’t know how to make them see that this is what I want. Its more than what I want. Its what I need. I need them to let me choose my path.

Best,

P

My (edited) Response:

Hi P,

I think it’s great that you know you want to travel. It’s hard when you are still underage and need your parents consent to do things like fly to foreign countries. The good news is you are 17, which means you will have more control of your life very soon.

The number one thing you can do to help your case is go to university. This is for a couple of reasons. I know that in America, and I assume in Australia, many schools have study abroad programs where you can go learn in other countries. That is what I did on my first trip abroad and it was a great experience. I would look for a school that has international programs- either studying or volunteering abroad. You could also look at schools that are in other countries.

Once you are out in the real world, you really don’t need your parent’s permission to travel anymore. You need to get yourself to a place where you will be able to fund your own travels, and to do that you’re probably going to need a job. Getting an education guarantees you a better paying job and even opportunities to go work abroad. This doesn’t mean you need to study medicine. I know a lot of kids from university who started out studying science because their parents wanted them to and ended up dropping it because they weren’t passionate about it. Think about what you like to learn about and look for programs that will let you do that.

I hope that’s at least somewhat helpful. Unfortunately there are no magic words to change your parent’s minds. But a large part of the traveling lifestyle is taking charge of your own life, and to do that you need to think long term. A lot of what comes with travel is delayed gratification. I’ve been working for almost two years to fund my next around the world trip. It sucks at the time but I know it’s going to pay off in the end.

Let  me know what you decide to do! Good luck!

Greek to Me (1)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kim Scarborough

Stephanie

Alright, your turn: What advice would you give P that I left out of my response? How many of you have encountered family conflict with your travel choices? How did you deal with this? The more answers we get the more useful this will be, for P and the many other young people who I’m sure deal with this issue.

38 thoughts on “Desperate to Travel: What’s Your Advice?”

  1. Well, I am in the same situation as P. I want to travel desperately as this girl but I don’t have as difficulty my parents but I think that I cannot travel because I am so hard to take some skills to complete my dream.
    Also, I want advice from someone who experiences this situation as me now and how could to do that. I am saying this because I am in a desperate and depressed mode that I will fail to achieve my dream. Please if you want can you help me?

    lpmetha@gmail.com

  2. Hey Steph,

    Haven’t seen you in forever. Just found your site while I was bumming around on Facebook. Very cool. I wanted to give a shoutout to a college I work with in New York (LIU – Brooklyn) with a program called Global College. Students study abroad for 7 out of 8 semesters in different countries and then come back to New York for their final semester. http://www2.brooklyn.liu.edu/globalcollege/

    Enjoy your future travels. Hit up New York when you’re back in the states.
    -Brady

  3. To that girl who wrote the letter and anyone who is interested:

    A lot of professional careers have professional organizations that allow you to practice in third world countries. Organizations like Doctors w/o Borders, Engineers w/o Borders, etc. Theres also the Peace Corps. It might be a more structured form of travelling and you will be working a lot but its still travel, and there is no “right way” to travel.

  4. Great blog and insights from commentators. I realized few things on this post. =) I’ll just add few more things.
    * I think a lot of people really wanted to travel, and yes, it’s true that procrastination delays it which may be because of ‘fear’ of being on your own in a foreign place. No one is going to help you, you might think. But hey, the truth out there is that when you travel, you’ll meet a lot of people, and they are always willing to help. Courage is all you need.
    * Unlike you, my mother loves to travel. But like you, I dreamed of traveling on my own. We have somehow a different goal when we travel. So I need to get her permission to let me do how I want it and on my own. One thing you might need to do is to show your parents how you handle school work, house chores, money, dealing with people and etc maturely. You need to show them that you are independent and mature on little things. Why they don’t allow you is maybe because they fear of losing you out in the world wandering and we know parents have the ‘paranoid’ worries. Or maybe traveling is unusual for them and you wanted it so much.
    What I did to my mom is when we travel, I told her that I will be responsible with all the flights and itineraries. And during travel, I get myself on the road and talk to people with confidence. And with school work, I did all my best to graduate and get honors. I also give my mom treats every after payday. Make you parents proud and let them see that you CAN. =)

  5. Hey :),

    I totally get where you are coming from. I first wanted to travel when I was seven. Yes, SEVEN!!! And not a kind of one day thing, I mean I used to constantly bug my mother about leaving NZ. I didn’t get to even leave the country until I was 18 (school trip), yet I now spend a lot of time travelling/ working abroad, and am about to work abroad again.

    Go to Uni. If you get a degree it will open many doors later, not only in your chosen field, but in other “degree required” fields (e.g. TESOL). It gives you amazing life experience to. I wish I had the chance to study abroad – all of my friends who did loved it!

    Another option a number of people at my uni did was work abroad for the Canadian/ European ski seasons. Seasonal workers are often hired to do this. Often people found that, because of the pay for doing this, they were able to break even.

    You will get to travel. I guess what you need ot do is think about how you can travel and earn and do what you love throughout your life!

    Oh, and, whilst I am pro getting a degree, look into post school GAP programmes, I have friends who loved theirs and went to Uni after. Also, look into distance study – you could go somewhere for a semester and take your study with you…

  6. HA, what a sweet exchange. i also love the way that people give advice to those who ask for it over the internet, it’s a very great thing that we can all help each other out so willingly and share our experiences!

  7. Dan,

    Yes, after reading all these amazing responses, I am determined to go to uni and pursue my dreams from there. I never thought about meeting like-minded people so thank you! The little bunch of people I know now don’t really seem interested/are passionate about travelling as I am so I hope to meet some pretty cool people in the future.

    Thanks!

    P
    .-= Pearl´s last blog ..Bright Star =-.

    1. Hey I have exactly the same problem as you. Im glad that im not the onlyone in this world. my parents want me to study something stupid and bouring, laws or something, but I am saving money for my around the world trip,Im going to start in Europe, I guess there I can meet some travelers that would join me haha, then Africa or Asia, Then Oceania, and finally America. Im just saving money, I will make a blog, and work abroad to earn money.I hope I can meet you somewhere, I will be glad of knowing someone with the same dream. A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality.

      Here is my mail of you want to exchange letters with a flamboyant boy: xavi_andreas94@hotmail.com

      I recommend you to read and watch films about traveling, such as Into the Wild.

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